Mattie lets Joann and Bettye know, “Leland needs cheerin’ up. We ain’t want him to start striking matches. Wash up good and, Joann, put on that French underwear he likes. We gonna all please him together.”
Joann boasts, “When he gets like this, he can ask fer anything. I’ll satisfy him but y’all ain’t need to see how.”
Bettye’s jealousy frequently results in feuds with Joann. “
Yer just trying to do something to make him love ya more than us. Leland and me does secret stuff too. If he’s so satisfied wit’ ya, why does he spend twice as much time wit’ me?”
“Maybe yer corset is too tight or ya take longer to figure out what I learnt ya….” Joann quips.
“Ya might be gettin’ too old to keep up, Joann! Perhaps ya pass out halfway through ’cause ya forgot to take a nap,” Bettye argues.
“Wait, wait…. Leland was very happy wit’ only me. I’m sharin’ him to get yer desires satisfied and yer quivers filled,” Mattie reminds them. “He loves us all and sometimes needs us fer different reasons. So none of us gets left out, stop fightin’ and work as a team.”
“Yer right. I’m thankful ya didn’t keep him fer yerself. Even without privacy, we all gonna get satisfaction and need to fix his mood. Ya might see things ya shouldn’t outta, but I’m gonna try and ignore yer stares.” Joann replies.
“I’m sorry, Joann for what I said. We all doin’ the same sharin’ but I still feel a little jealous sometimes,” Bettye confesses. “It’s silly, but I think if I please him more, he might marry me.”
“Ya sure is silly. Since I started it, if there’s any marryin’, I’d be his wife,” Mattie replies. “But let’s not be worryin’ ’bout that ’cause ain’t no pastor gonna let that happen.”
When they arrive, Leland is in a somber tone.
“Yeah, Leland is gone. Bettye, come show them how to kiss
Sergio!” he begs. “The rest of my lovely wenches, be patient.” Kicking off a competition for affection, she kisses Leland with eyebrow-raising passion.
This is the first time Joann and Bettye see who they view as their man satisfy another woman. Each sister impresses the next with something different. It is almost two hours before Joann gets an opportunity to demonstrate more vigor than her counterparts.
Sergio wants somethin’ new. Maybe I watch the two of y’all…?”
The two sisters are shocked. They pause and stare at each other. Bettye whispers to Joann, “Have Mattie and ya ever done… anything together… fer him?”
Joann replies to her, “Naw, never!
“Okay, we gotta come up wit’ somethin’! I trust ya,” says Bettye.
“Just stay where I put ya till I move ya and do what I do.”
Joann takes the lead and suggests to Leland, “
Sergio still needs more entertainin’. Lay on yer back and please two wenches at once like a big strong man.”
Leland enjoys their adaptation. “This is very good! From now on, when Mattie leaves to take care of the chil’ren, this will be our special thing.”
The next day, Leland is no longer in a bad mood. Feeling privileged for the way the three loves of his life make him feel, he steals gentle kisses and offers sweet compliments. He picks a bouquet of flowers for the dinner table.
depression gone, Leland stops playing Sergio, but asks if efforts to impregnate could continue through the week.
Whispering to her sisters with a wide grin, Mattie exclaims, “Look at Leland. We cured him. Whatever y’all been doin’ when I leave worked! Keep it up.”
Leland surprises Mattie with a passionate kiss and embrace in front of the children. He does the same with Joann and Bettye. Then he tells them, “Ain’t no shame in lovin’ yer mothers. Y’all obey them ’cause we family. Now get to yer chores.”
There’s slight illumination through the window in a shared bedroom while Joann is spending the night with Leland.
Mattie hears a familiar sound of Bettye moaning her name.
“I ain’t know how to thank ya fer givin’ me a chance to fulfill my desires
wit’ somebody other than myself. Instead of keepin’ Leland to yerself, ya learnt us why kinfolk is good fer us.”
“We had doubts ’bout whether ya was ready. Does ya have any questions or is ya regretin’ anythin’?”
“There ain’t no regrets. It just seems like I’m competin’ wit’ Joann somethin’ awful. Y’all got more history fer pleasin’.”
“Bettye, I ain’t yer competition…. Can I come over to ya?”
I ain’t never said
no…,” Bettye replies while making room.
“Mattie…. Oh, Mattie….”
“Ain’t nobody gotta know nothin’ ’bout this.” Mattie responds in the twilight.”
Bettye’s heart rate returns to normal.” They then close their eyes while holding each other in a warm embrace.
The two awaken together early in the morning. But Bettye is on tenterhooks. As usual, they bathe in the creek, but while remaining at a distance this time. Then they gather eggs to prepare breakfast for the family without mentioning the prior evening.
Smiting Leland feels punishment…
Joann becomes pregnant but has a miscarriage during the second month. Bettye also gets pregnant with her third child and thanks Leland when she finds out.
Hoping to prevent another death, through the ninth month, Leland bonds with Bettye as a wife. He sleeps with her every night. This causes some jealousy among Joann and Mattie.
“It ain’t right what they doin’, leavin’ us out,” Mattie says to Joann.
Their complaints fall on deaf ears. Bettye and the infant die of complications during childbirth. Mattie’s firstborn son also dies mysteriously six months later.
The four losses cause severe depression for Leland. Rather than feeling like a progenitor filling his quiver with arrows, he now believes God is smiting his family for breaking His Commandments.
Joann responds to comfort him, “I have vowed myself to ya and can have no other man. Let me fill yer quiver. The loss was my fault.”
After three months, Joann is still not pregnant. So he tells his sisters to resume treating him like a brother. It is a gradual process that occurs over the next year. Joann keeps trying to extend it by quietly entering his room at night. But most of the time Leland resists, fearing more deaths.
Redemption Is salvation possible?
When the incest completely halts, Mattie and Joann begin reading the Bible to the children. With limited reading ability and a poor translation, they don’t get very far. They focus on the patriarchal era before the Mosaic Law. There’s “begetting,” multiple marriages, and relationships between a father and his daughters.
Then they skip over Leviticus 18:6 to the Ten Commandments in Deuteronomy. It pricks their consciences enough to resume reading Genesis. The women ask Leland to pray at mealtime but he declines.
After putting the children to bed on one quiet evening, Joann and Mattie sit near the fireplace. Then Joann says, “It’s been more than two years since we been in Leland’s room fer the night. I’d be lyin’ if I say I ain’t missin’ it. Does ya have any ideas ’bout that?”
Under the circumstances, this is the closest Joann comes to an invitation to treat her like Bettye.
Mattie hesitates to say outright what’s on her mind since they’ve been reading the Bible. Gently placing her hand on Joann’s thigh she replies, “Yeah, I been missin’ too. “If ya got
any ideas ’bout what we can do, lemme hear ‘em.”
“Well…, if we really puttin’ that part of our lives behind us, we should confess our sins to Pastor Franklin.”
Though hoping for another suggestion, Mattie goes along, feeling she should set a spiritual example as the oldest, “Oh, yer probably right. If I’m a repentant sinner, I want redemption. But the final decision should be up to the man of this house.”
Entering later, Leland pauses to admire the beauty of the two women in the firelight before sitting down between them, “I never stopped lovin’ y’all. It’s just… seein’ Bettye die givin’ birth…. I can’t risk losin’ either of ya….”
“Joann and me been talkin’ ’bout maybe confessin’ our sins to Pastor Franklin. Is that somethin’ ya wanna do?”
“How much confessin’ I gotta do fer redemption?”
“Just enough to bring peace to our souls. I would confess that I lusted after my kinfolk and bore yer chil’ren. I ain’t gonna go into detail ’bout how we was satisfyin’ every desire…. Or how much I enjoyed it…. But if ya has any temptation to start up again, we should wait before makin’ our confessions.”
“In my head, y’all my sistas and I’m the papa of yer chil’ren. I love y’all, but sometimes I ain’t be knowin’ who I is. Them kids see y’all visiting my room and gettin’ pregnant. Maybe that’s why I was tryin’ to settle on one of ya, but she died.”
Mattie reasons, “Thanks fer sayin’ that. Our chil’ren know they ma and pa is brotha and sista. So don’t be withholdin’ from us fer a good example now. If we honest, soon they gonna be doin’ what we done and havin’ more chil’ren too.”
Joann tames the assertion, “Maybe not all our chil’ren will do what we done.”
Mattie continues, “I miss Bettye more than ya know, but stop believing nothin’ bad’s gonna happen to us like her. It ain’t frightenin’ me from keep fillin’ yer quiver. Maybe some babies ain’t makin’ it ’cause our wombs is gettin’ older. But if somethin’ does happen to Joann or me, it’ll be a sign from God to love the one that’s left.”
Matrimony Here comes the brides…
Leland pulls the ladies under his arms and says, “If I was to… treat y’all like real women again—maybe just fer tonight—would my confession cover that too?”
Mattie kisses Leland on the cheek before suggesting, “Even if our pleasure is more than one night…, we could delay them confessions. Please consider my feelin’s ’bout this before ya make the decision fer this household.
“I think where we went wrong is expectin’ ya to be our brotha while pretendin’ to be a secret lover. I even told ya not to love me like a girlfriend ’cause I’m yer sista. Ya ain’t got no identity and ya can’t express how ya really feel. That’s probably what messes wit’ yer head, Leland.”
“I need to hear that, ’cause I still love y’all more than sistas.”
“I’m sorry fer tellin’ ya not to love me in the ways ya felt. I ain’t shamed if Joann or the chil’ren know yer my lover. Joann and me fix yer meals, wash yer clothes, birth yer babies, and raise ’em. We ain’t got no paper, but ever since we laid down together, we been treatin’ ya like a husband.
“There’s a betta solution than what we all no doubt been doin’ to satisfy our desires these past two years. Ain’t no reason to be sleepin’ in different rooms.”
Joann blushes but confirms, “I love Mattie fer speakin’ up ’bout feelin’s we all got. Yer lover shouldn’t gotta satisfy her own desires. I still love ya, Leland. The right thing fer us three is to share one room. Ain’t no reason to pretend we ain’t the parents of our chil’ren.
“Some of them could sleep where Mattie and me now do. Besides, I ain’t be thinkin’ it’s proper fer a grown man to be hangin’ ’round our developin’ girls without a woman satisfyin’ his needs.”
Hugging them again, Leland replies, “Y’all gangin’ up on me in a good way. Instead of worryin’ bout what might happen or what others think, we gotta be happy wit’ each other.
“I really want ya both. As a papa to yer kids, there’s no way I could pick ’tween ya.” Getting down on one knee, Leland holds each of their left hands and proposes, “I ain’t got no rings, but I’m askin’ both of ya, proper now, to be my wives.”
Mattie replies enthusiastically, “Really? Well, yeah! I been wantin’ to marry ya since ya turnt 21.” While wrapping her legs behind his back, she then passionately kisses Leland so hard, it makes Joann blush.
With joyful tears, Joann responds, “Yeah, I wanna be yer wife too!” Then she kisses Leland even longer than Mattie.
“This gives me peace. Y’all ain’t gonna get jealous sharin’ everythin’ in the same bed as two wives, is ya?” Leland asks.
Joann assures, “Ya gotta know somethin’ ’bout us. At least one of us expects satisfyin’ most every night. We been sharin’ ya all these years. Mattie and me ain’t got no jealousy ’bout that.”
“Mourning Bettye fer so long has put me in this bad mood that robs this house of happiness. But I reckon it’s best to focus on the love that’s still here. So y’all acceptin’ my proposal.”
“It’s like yer a bear comin’ out of hibernation!” Mattie exclaims.
“Now, it’s time to make is as official as we can. I, Leland Shoemaker, vow to love, honor, and provide fer both y’all from here on out. From now on, the three of us decide important things together and I can’t just stop satisfyin’ ya if I got the strength. Does y’all accept these vows as yer husband as long as we all shall live?”
“Them’s the best wedding vows I ever heard,” Joann replies. “I do!”
only wedding vows ya heard.” Mattie adds, “I do too!”
“Y’all can kiss me now…. We ain’t got no official paper or rings, but this should be good enough fer us. Maybe we can have a special dinner and make this our anniversary date. I reckon, there’s no way to stop y’all from gettin’ pregnant again. It’ll be nice to replace the arrows we lost.”
Though 20% U.S. adults believe that polygamy is morally acceptable, it is banned throughout much of the world. Only about 2% of the global population lives in polygamous households, and in the vast majority of countries, that share is under 0.5%. In sub-Saharan Africa, 11% of the population is polygamous.
“I’m happy wit’ everything ya said, except I remember the first date ya loved me as a wife. I carved it into a tree wit’ our names in a heart. That’s when I wanna celebrate our anniversary,” Mattie suggests.
“If it’s alright wit’ Joann, on that date, I’d like to sleep wit’ Leland alone. He ain’t gotta take me nowhere, but maybe I ain’t hafta fix supper that day.”
Joann replies, “This makes me so happy too. I agree wit’ Mattie, but ain’t knowin’ exactly when our first time was. I thought I’d never get no husband. This makes my life kind of normal. But I can count backwards from when our child was born. That can be our anniversary when I got ya to myself and get flowers. I’ll cook on Mattie’s anniversary if she cooks on mine.”
“I know this is gonna work ’cause y’all agree on everything without fussin’.”
“Tonight we should still have a special dinner. After that, whatever Joann and Bettye did together that fixed yer moods, I’m eager to learn and willin’ to do just as good wit’ Joann fer ya,” Mattie suggests. “We gonna have one big embarassin’ honeymoon ’cause Joann’s gonna see me holding back no lovin’.”
“We’ll be gettin’ all our satisfaction in full view. It might be a little embarrassin’ at first, but we’ll get used to it soon enough,” Joann replies.
Leland then concludes, “If ya learn what Joann been doin’, none of y’all gonna be waitin’ and I’ll be a happy husband. I want y’all to feel equal ’cause I love ya the same. This is a good day, and it’s gonna be a good night.”
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